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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Qatar Airways to increase flights to Iran despite US sanctions

Doha plans to expand operations to Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan in defiance of Washington

A Qatar Airways plane taking off from the Hamad International Airport in Doha. AFP
A Qatar Airways plane taking off from the Hamad International Airport in Doha. AFP

Qatar Airlines has announced more flights to Iran after Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran’s aviation industry.

The state-owned Gulf airline said on Monday evening that it would add two weekly flights to its existing Doha-Tehran route and another three weekly flights on its Shiraz service in January. It is also expected to launch two weekly flights to Isfahan from February.

“These latest launches are further evidence of Qatar Airways’ commitment to Iran, as well as the expansion of our network in this thriving market,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker. Reuters
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker. Reuters

The announcement follows threats by US President Donald Trump to bar companies that do business with Iran.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and European carriers, such as British Airways and Air France, halted their services to Iran this year.

The US also reimposed penalties on all Iranians and organisations that were exempt from sanctions after the 2015 nuclear deal, under which Tehran accepted strict curbs on its nuclear programme.

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The development comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, encouraged Muslims worldwide to unite against Washington.

Mr Rouhani called for the destruction of Israel and described it as a “fake regime” set up by western states.

“One of the ominous results of second World War was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region,” he said during an international conference on Islamic unity.

Tehran supports militant groups that oppose Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. EPA
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. EPA

MMr Pompeo said the statement would deepen Iran’s isolation and inflame tension in the region, and was “a dangerous and irresponsible step”.

“The Iranian people know better and do not agree with their government, which has badly represented them to the world for 39 years,” he said.

“The people have suffered under this tyranny for far too long.”